My paternal grandfather was born in Zapieczne, Poland. You have no idea how hard it was to figure that out.
I had always been told that he was from Lodz, Poland. When my Jewish friends heard my maiden name (which I use as my middle name), they would always comment about the name being common in Lodz and its variations. The name itself is derived from the Jewish Ashkenazic name from the Yiddish female given name Dobroe, which means "good". Diminutives are Dobkin and Dopkin. The surname then was the name given a descendant of dobe. Variants of this surname include Dobkowicz and Dubkowski. And mine is another variation subject to several spelling variations.
My grandfather's information on the ship's manifest said he was from Rustok, Russia, a town I could not locate anywhere near Poland. Census records only mentioned Poland as did others. Then I found his World War II draft registration card. That gave his place of birth as Zapiecrmyck, Poland.
Totally baffled I wrote to the Polish Consulate office in Chicago and got - NO response at all.
So, I Googled. It took awhile, but I finally found the town of Zapieczne (after being directed to a restaurant with the same name). When my grandfather was born there it was in the Lomza District. The borders of the administrative districts have changed many times over the last two centuries and today Zapieczne and Lomza are in two different districts.
I am guessing that relatives confused Lomza and Lodz. Hey, they share three letters. As for Rustok, I eventually found that 'Rostki is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Jedwabne, within Łomża County, Podlaskie Voivodeship, in north-eastern Poland.' Rustok - Rostki, makes sense, especially if one was translating the Cyrillic alphabet to English.
A cousin found relatives still living in Zapieczne. He found them on Facebook. They shared family pictures of relatives we did not even know we had. Hey, I just met this cousin within the last five years. I knew there was family on Long Island, NY, but after my parents died I never heard about them. Then my sister gave me my mother's stuff and there were pages from an old address book. I Googled an address, found a phone number that was the same as the one in the book, and called it. I spoke with the mother of the cousin I had yet to meet and it was amazing. She had lived in the house that her father-in-law had built in 1952. She died within the past two years.
Sometimes in order to build a family tree we must dig a hole twice as wide and sometimes twice as deep as the root ball. It takes time and a desire to really know where we came from.
Thanks for sharing this journey with me.